Lake Norman & Mooresville

New coach leading Titans' 'reloading' efforts

For the last eight years, Damon Bost has worked behind the scenes of the Hopewell basketball program, organizing the defense and mentoring the post players under head coach Eric Davis.

During that time, the Titans became one of the best programs in the state, winning 95 games in the last four seasons.

But last spring, Davis left to coach West Brunswick High near Wilmington, and most of the Hopewell stars of the last few years graduated.

After flirting with going to the coast with his longtime mentor, Bost, who works for Kellogg's Snacks in Charlotte, decided to step into the spotlight and take over the program that he has helped build.

After taking the job in July, the Bost era of Hopewell basketball is getting underway.

"I am looking forward to putting my own stamp on the program," said Bost.

Bost, 34, started doing just that this summer and will continue to do it as the season unfolds with a team that will look a lot different, as six of last year's top eight scorers graduated.

Gone are all-conference, all-state performers Jordan Downing and DeMon Brooks, who both play a few miles up the road at Davidson College, as well as guards Earl McLaurin (Naval Prep Academy), Adrian Addie (Anderson College) and forward Bryce Hawkins (Lenoir-Rhyne).

Now, role players like 6-foot-7 center Elliott Pope and point guard Michael Russell will, like their coach, have to assume more prominent roles for the Titans.

Bost, Pope and Russell will have some familiar names to help out, particularly Tyrone and Daron Curry, the younger brothers of former Titan star Brandyn Curry, who is now at Harvard. Seniors Chris Beam, Cameron Burney and Dekwinte Finney, along with newcomer Darius Smalls, a 6-foot-4 junior, will also be counted on to contribute.

"A lot of these guys don't have big time experience in games," said Bost, who said the team will go as many as 10-deep.

"But they also went toe-to-toe, every day in practice with some of the best players in the state on a team that was in the top five in the state for the majority of the last two years. These guys want to take ownership of this team and still play at a high level. They don't want to drop the baton on their watch."

Bost will be in charge of the process of what he hopes is a "reloading" instead of a "rebuilding" mode. While the talent isn't quite the same, Bost expects the execution and effort to be there.

"We're not quite as athletic, so we will have to be a little smarter about the way we play," said Bost. "But we want to play the same brand of basketball. We still want to get out and play in transition, and put a lot of pressure on teams defensively, like we have in the past."

The opportunity to do so in the I-Meck Conference will be there, as most of the teams - from defending 4A state champion Lake Norman to North Meck and West Charlotte - are also in transition mode.

"I think you'd be surprised how good a lot of these teams are really quick," said Bost. "There is still a lot of talent in our league and in the area. By the end of the year, there will be another group of stars from these teams."

Bost hopes that a few of the I-Meck's new stars and standouts come from his team. One of them could even be Bost, himself.